Self-planning a trip that’s truly worthy of your time and money can take months.
But what if you don’t have the time or patience for that? What if life has you needing an incredible, meticulously planned vacation right now? You know the feeling: the wanting to jump on a plane at the end of a difficult work week, the urge to escape someplace exotic at a moment’s notice with your significant other, or the desire to do something memorable with an unexpected opening in your schedule.
For most, this kind of travel is confined to the realm of daydreams, but for luxury travelers (or those willing to splurge), jetting away on an envy-inducing, impromptu trip is now as easy as clicking the Panic Button, a new service from luxury travel agency Black Tomato.
With Panic Button, those able to pay the premium that comes with last-minute travel will have a Black Tomato Panic Expert work around the clock to plan a detailed trip that could otherwise take a non-expert months — and they’ll do it all and in as little as 24 hours.
Found on the company’s website, clicking the Panic Button removes all information from the site and directs people to a Panic questionnaire. For stressed out or overwhelmed travelers, not being able to see the endless array of incredible trips that are possible through Black Tomato is actually calming.
The Panic questionnaire asks questions like, “With 0 being calm and 10 being a total meltdown, how panicked are you?” It’ll also ask you to pick the experience and landscape that most appeal to you from sets of photos. This will help your Panic Expert narrow in on destinations you’ll like.
You’ll also need to choose how much you’re comfortable spending per person on your trip. Choices range from $3,000-$4,000 per person to $20,000+ per person. Once you submit the questionnaire, you’ll get a call from a Panic Expert within minutes. From this point on, you’ll barely need to lift a finger.
The experiences you can have are endless, but possibilities range from private polo lessons in Argentina to an after hours tour of The Great Wall with a preeminent Chinese historian.
I pressed the Panic Button and spoke with a Panic Expert to see what the process was really like for luxury travelers — and I never want to plan a trip the traditional way again.
Filling out the Panic Button questionnaire, I noted that I wanted to get away as soon as humanly possible and that I was a 7 on the “How panicked are you?” scale. When asked to choose an experience that most appealed to me from a set of photos, I choose a photo of someone walking though what looked like a coastal Italian village — and when asked to choose a landscape, I chose an aerial shot of a beach resort in what looked like the Maldives. To the question, “Is there anything you really can’t compromise on?” I chose the response, “I want to be totally surprised.”
After a few more creative questions, I answered some logistical ones on how many nights I’d like to be away, if I’d be traveling solo or with anyone else, which airport I’d be departing from, and how much I’d be comfortable spending — to which I chose $15,000 per person (a boy can dream).
Within just a few minutes, I got a call from Sunil, a man with a charming British accent and one of Black Tomato’s New York-based Panic Experts.
Sunil had digested my Panic questionnaire and suggested a trip to the northeast part of Sicily. He recommended a selection of incredible hotels I could stay in and told me about the trips to nearby UNESCO World Heritage sites, local cooking classes, and private wine tastings on the slopes of Mount Etna he could arrange for me.
As if my panic wasn’t cured by just listening to him describe this epic trip, he went on to tell me about the private yacht or helicopter he could arrange to take me to spend a few days on Salina or Pantelleria, two nearby Italian islands free from the hordes of tourists found in other coastal Italian towns (after all, the only people who really know about these islands are vacationing Italians).
By the end of our conversation, I was actually smiling thinking about how amazing it’d be to really take this trip. The idea of going from: “I really need to get away,” to pressing the Panic Button, to being called by a travel expert within minutes who lays out an incredible trip I’d never considered taking, to me saying “Great, book it!” to being on the next flight to Italy, and all within as little as 24 hours, was intoxicating. Taking a trip like this, at a near moment’s notice, with zero stress and without having to lift a finger over the details, is now my idea of luxury travel.
As promised, Sunil sent me a fully fleshed out, beautiful itinerary a few hours after our call — and had I been a millionaire and not using the Panic Button for purposes of reporting this story, I would have said “Great, book it!” and been on my way to the other side of the globe the next day.